Weekly Feature



2018-02-08 / Front Page

Town rolls out public mapping website

by BRYAN JACKSON
Editor

After several months of planning and building, Cheektowaga launched a new public mapping website last week, making information on zoning districts and flood plains much more accessible to residents, real estate agents and developers, according to town officials.

The site relies on geographic information system mapping software that allows users to, at the stroke of their keyboards, turn on digital map overlay layers, putting a vast landscape of information at their fingertips.

According to Town Planner Daniel Ulatowski, the site will be a time saver for his department, as well as for those searching for the information.

“I receive, I would say, an average of maybe 30 inquiries a month, if not more, and they’re always from those involved in the real estate community,” he said. Whether it’s a Realtor, a lender, an appraiser, a prospective purchaser, or even a prospective developer, they will ask me to confirm zoning and any other data pertaining to that property.”

Ulatowski said that while the information is important for the town to provide, that current process can be time consuming. The data is not new, but making it widely available to the public, as well as to other town employees, such those in the community development, building and assessor’s offices, should be a benefit.

Currently, residents looking for some of the information now available on the town’s GIS site, such as property and lot owners, can turn to Erie County’s mapping system. However, Cheektowaga’s application has town-specific layers that allow people to see, for example, archeologically sensitive areas and wetlands.

More layers can be added at any time, and Ulatowski said one coming soon will show all building permits issued in a given timeframe, giving prospective developers the opportunity to see the areas of town where there is an increase in permits issued.

Both Cheektowaga and the county system use software from Esri, an international leader in GIS mapping, according to Ulatowski, and the town’s application is hosted by Williamsville-based architectural and engineering firm Wendel P.C. for a $4,500 annual fee.

The Bee reported in April 2017, when the Cheektowaga Town Board approved the agreement with Wendel P.C., that that cost was being offset by increased revenue from zoning and planning fees.

Although Ulatowski understood the reservations about the fee expressed by some board members at that time, he was appreciative of the green light and was confident the investment would pay off.

“I think the benefits outweigh the annual expense … and it’s just not limited to people in this region. Anyone from the world now can look at Cheektowaga in a more detailed way,” he said.

A link to the mapping application can be found by visiting the Planning/Zoning Administration Web page under the Building and Plumbing Department tab on the town’s website, www.tocny.org.

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